The inaugural Toronto Aquafest on the foreshore at Lake Macquarie on January 27 | photos

MORE than 200 people escaped Saturday’s heat by taking to the floating obstacles in the Toronto lake baths, the most popular attraction of the first Toronto Aquafest.

Brenda Hartmire, of the event organisers, Toronto Chamber of Commerce, said it was an impressive turn-out.

“We are very happy with the attendance numbers and it was a lovely mix of ages,” Mrs Hartmire said.

“A high percentage enjoyed the aquatic obstacle course provided by First Splashes in the lake pool.  Most also took part in the onshore activities which included jumping castles, family games such as mini putt-putt, Twister and carnival games.”

Mrs Hartmire said organisers sought constant feedback from participants during the event, and the word from both parents and children was that they loved it.

We are very happy with the attendance numbers and it was a lovely mix of ages.

- Brenda Hartmire

“Many also commented that they hoped it would be repeated next year, and that it was a great end to the school holidays.”

The chamber expects the event to grow next year, and has created a register of volunteers to help run it.

While there were some complaints about the heat, Mrs Hartmire said Aquafest was staged to coincide with the end of the school holidays, so “we feel it was the perfect time”.

The chamber might consider introducing slightly different activity session times, and durations and, with more sponsorship, adding shade marquees, she said.

Sponsors who attended the event enjoyed the atmosphere and its potential to grow into a drawcard.

Among them was Sasha Ashton, of KFC Toronto.

“I thought it was a nice community day, with lots of fun,” Ms Ashton said.

“There was a good variety of activities, and different age groups, which was particularly good to see.”

The chamber conducted a survey which revealed that 90 per cent of attendees at the festival were from the Westlakes area.

“The remainder travelled from as far afield as Maitland,” Mrs Hartmire said.

Parents also said there weren’t enough events for youths in the Westlakes area.

Some suggested events such as music in the park featuring live bands, movies, and other family fun days were needed in the Westlakes area.